2014-01-23 / Cuisine

ALTO, Cider Press Café hold promise for culinary adventurers

Two new restaurants are about to open, bringing to Naples concepts found in larger cities and sure to be great additions to our dining scene. Some details:


Charles Mereday has been stirring things up with his elegant and delicious Mereday’s Fine Dining at Naples Bay Resort. In early February, he’ll also open ALTO, a classic supper club reminiscent of the acclaimed (now closed) Zanzibar Blue in Philadelphia.

“It was my first job as an executive chef and it stuck with me,” he says.

I dined there some years ago and it stuck with me, too, for the wonderful upscale soul food, the cozy atmosphere and the great music. Mr. Mereday plans to bring all of that to the new Bayfront space, including national headliners along with local and regional musicians.

Heading up the kitchen will be his first culinary mentor, chef Nadir Sherwani, who leaves a prestigious job on California’s Catalina Island to partner with Mr. Mereday.

Estie Karpman of Marco Island makes a batch of her grandmother’s famous strudel in preparation for the Jewish Deli Fest set for Sunday at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island. 
COURTESY PHOTOS Estie Karpman of Marco Island makes a batch of her grandmother’s famous strudel in preparation for the Jewish Deli Fest set for Sunday at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island. COURTESY PHOTOS “He’s extremely talented,” says Mr. Mereday. “I’m excited. He’s excited.”

A sampling of the menu includes: basil-fed escargot, Florida black mussel soufflé, fontina bechamel crepes, leek tart, smoked salmon or lamb and beef kefta flatbread, watercress salad, 28-ounce prime T-bone, pompano en papillote, braised Palmetto Creek Farms pork shank, steak Diane and Arrow Ranch squab. As at Mereday’s, the emphasis will be on high-quality ingredients expertly rendered, but dishes will be a bit more casual and there will be more large plates.

With seating for 200, ALTO is expected to open Feb. 7. It’s at 492 Bayfront Place. Call 404-5014, visit www.altonaples.com or ALTO Naples on Facebook.

Sous vide vegetable terrine from The Cider Press Cafe, opening soon in Naples. Sous vide vegetable terrine from The Cider Press Cafe, opening soon in Naples. The Cider Press Cafe

“Florida inspired, modernist, plantbased cuisine, in a casual yet elegant setting” is the concept touted on The Cider Press Café’s Facebook page.

Heading up the culinary team is chef Johan Everstijn, former chef de cuisine oo of Matthew Kenney OKC, one of Forbes Magazine’s TopT 10 Restaurants in AmericaA

MEp of 2011 and Shape Magazine’s “7 Places to Eat Before You Die.” If the photos on the Facebook page are any indication, even hard-care carnivores will be smitten.

The café, which is expected to open any day now, will serve local organic produce, using the latest techniques in food preparation to create sophisticated, healthful dishes. Food temperature will be kept below 117ºF to ensure the maximum flavor and freshness, while preserving nutrients and enzymes.

A few items I spied on the site: portobello churrasco with chimichurri, pineapple yellow aji and cauliflower two ways; oyster mushroom-passion fruit ceviche with crispy corn chips; and sous vide vegetable terrine with butternut squash, beet, golden beet, avocado, turnip, chimichurri.

The bar will serve fresh juices, smoothies, ciders and house-brewed kombuchas, wines, beers and wine-based cocktails.

The café’s modern interior is designed by the architecture firm of Dyehouse and Comierato, using American-made products and sustainable materials and featuring historical farming artifacts, including a restored apple cider press from 1869 and bar stools made from recycled tractor seats.

The cafe is at Piper’s Crossing, 1201 Piper Blvd. (Immokalee and Airport-Pulling roads). Check out the restaurant’s Facebook page for the latest info.

Jewish Deli Fest

Feel like a little nosh — or a big one? Then head to the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island’s Jewish Deli Fest from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, and dig into a New York style deli sandwich of kosher-style corn beef, pastrami or salami, with homemade cole slaw, potato salad and beverage. Don’t miss the homemade chicken soup with matzo balls and the bean barley soup.

Then head to Bubbie’s Bakery for rugelach, strudel, macaroons, apple cake, mandel bread and more, all made with love by members of the Sisterhood. Proceeds benefit the JCMI, which is at 991 Winterberry Drive.

New at HB’s on the Gulf

HB’s on the Gulf has introduced new lunch and dinner menus created by the restaurant’s new chef, Justin Hornyak, and his team. The waterfront restaurant at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club was recently renovated to provide an even more expansive view of the water.

The menu now includes more small plates, such as fried duck wontons, sautéed calamari, Malpeque oysters, goat cheese croquette salad and roasted beets salad. Large plates include shrimp and grits, filet of beef with Boursin-stuffed morel mushrooms and pan-seared flounder with tangerine couscous. On the lunch menu: pork belly sliders, grouper tacos, snapper sandwich, oyster po’ boy and vegan hummus wrap.

HB’s is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and for dinner from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Call 435-4347 or visit www.NaplesBeachHotel.com.

Quick bites

¦ Shula’s Steak House hosts a Fuzzy’s Vodka bottle signing 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, with golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller, who will sign bottles and memorabilia. Bottles will be available for purchase, you can meet Mr. Zoeller and receive a signature drink and appetizer sample platter. Space is limited. To reserve a spot, call Jeff Jerome at 659- 3176. Shula’s is at 5111 Tamiami Trail N. at the Hilton Naples.

¦ Dine at Vergina from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 3, and 10 percent will benefit The Immokalee Foundation's mission of building pathways to success for the children of Immokalee. Vergina is at 700 Fifth Ave. S. For reservations, call 659-7009 or visit www.verginarestaurant.com. ¦

— Send items to cuisine@floridaweekly.com.

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